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tv   Nightline  ABC  February 27, 2013 12:35am-1:05am PST

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tonight on "nightline," shoplifter busters. we go inside the underground world of organized shoplifting rings, and the secret police force that's hot on their trail, cracking down on a multi-billion-dollar epidemic. shark attack. police officers shoot a 12-foot shark after a deadly attack in a popular surfing beach down under. tonight we go out with scientists tagging, tracking great whites lurking so close to
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our shores. and fire ball. 19 tourists killed in a horrific midair explosion, the worst hot air balloon in history, the chilling tragedy raising the question just how safe are these rides.
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from new york city, this is "nightline" with bill weir. >> good to be with you tonight, thanks for joining us. imagine this as a plotline for "ocean's 14." clooney, pitt and the gang turn their thieving skills towards a really juicy target, the supermarket. as crazy as it sounds, organized shoplifting rings are now selling milk, tide, and razor blades on the black market to the tune of $30 billion a year, enough to inspire retailers to form specialized undercover units. abc's nick watt went along with
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one of them for a bust. >> reporter: we used to call it shoplifting, but now it's so much more. >> i've seen a person pull a razor blade and cut put. >> it could be nothing, it could be something. >> reporter: it's highly organized doing big business. there's even an acronym. o.r.c. organized retail crime. >> it's just like a fortune 500 company. all this is just organized. >> reporter: it costs the retail industry more than $30 billion a year. >> everything from meat to razors to milk. >> reporter: milk? >> yeah. you name it. >> reporter: tide detergent, current hot target. expensive, easy to shift on the streets. they're calling it liquid gold. >> sometimes we get rings that just do alcohol. and then we get some that do meat and sea foot. >> reporter: the loot is moved on for cents on the dollar to
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fencing operations and sold in plain sight. what do you think is stolen in here? >> well, probably just about everything. >> reporter: underwear, fragrance, clothing. highly sophisticated shoplifting networks. boosters, fencers, mr. bigs, can make millions of dollars a year. >> it's mike. >> reporter: and mike sweat is on the case. the river side county sheriff's deputy, badly injured in a car wreck, sweat is now a full-time private investigator on the o.r.c. beat. hired by stores from t.j. maxx to marshall's, he's helping out the cops. >> you've got low level, mid level, top dog. we like to go after the top dog. the only way to get there is mid level first. >> reporter: he's been casing two joints in l.a. for months. he suspects they're mid level fencing operations and we are with him as sweat works with undercover agents who go into the store for a final reconnaissance mission. >> we're going to freshen up the evidence that led us to the
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search warrant that we're going to execute next tuesday. here's the covert video device. >> reporter: it's g time. >> they're approaching now. they're walking up the sidewalk. >> reporter: sweat says these are stolen goods on display. he's happy. he thinks he has enough. >> we, you know, wrote it up and handed it over to detective parker. >> reporter: the day has arrived. a motorcade of squad cars depart. we join them on the raid. >> every store in every city has to go through this. they wait, and when no one's paying attention, they walk out. >> reporter: others don't care if the store clarks see them. they might not want to put their neck on the line. >> it's not their practice to stop them. >> reporter: the store clerks, they let them run. >> they don't want their employees to be injured. so they'll call the police, but by the time we get there, they're gone. >> reporter: leaving guys like mike sweat to put the pieces together to bust open the gangs to lead overstretched police departments to their prey. they're in, the raid is on, and pay dirt.
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>> all that down here is victoria's secret. expensive victoria's secret. the gift sets. jcpenney. it's all the same. it's not rip-off stuff. it's not counterfeit. >> reporter: genuine, but cut priced katy perry perfume. the list price is $90. she's selling it for $59. >> she probably paid $10 for it. >> reporter: inspectors swarm the place. everything is photographed and the cuffs go on. for sweat, that's two down, but so many more to go. it happens in every corner of the country. at this secret warehouse in northern indiana, millions of dollars worth of reclaimed stolen merchandise is being stored. >> this particular case here involved about 40-plus boosters. fed back to a fence. about a $17 million a year operation. >> reporter: that's jerry biggs, director of walgreens organized
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retail crime division. biggs and his team are the james bonds of retail crime. armed with tracking devices, radios, and hidden cameras. >> these are visor cams. it's mounted here for 360. it's recording what's going on. you can see behind as well. >> reporter: a booster might think he's out the door and in the clear. not so. >> with today's technology, i can have your face pretty much throughout the country in less than ten minutes. >> reporter: pins in the map mark shoplifting hot spots. flowcharts connect members of various gangs. this is a big target. easy to steal. a guy in texas wearing a suit swiping a tray of diabetic test strips, total value, a thousand dollars. >> he takes that to the bathroom and empties it out. >> reporter: two days later he was stopped by traffic cops with
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$4,000 worth of meds in his truck. these women seem to have somehow gotten hold of the keys to display cases. the police are still looking to question them. >> i'm amazed every time how they can come in a store, within anywhere from four to five minutes and walk out with anywhere from $400 to $2,000 worth of merchandise and nobody knows what happened. >> reporter: meanwhile, back in l.a., those cuffs are on. the owners of the stores arrested for possession of stolen merchandise. for mike sweat, his work goes on. >> a whole lot of box. not sure what it is, but i don't want to let it go. >> reporter: at mike's command center, aka his apartment, he shows off the fruits of silent hours stalking his quarry. you're never going to actually stop people from stealing from stores. >> no, but i can sure try. >> reporter: any boosters watching tonight, be warned.
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you might be being watched. mike sweat might be right behind you. i'm nick watt for "nightline" in los angeles. >> thanks to nick, and just ahead, an ocean adventure with scientists on a quest to unlock the secrets of the great white shark. [ male announcer ] rocky had no idea why dawn was gone for so long... ...but he'd wait for her forever, for any reason, and would always be there with the biggest welcome home. for a love this strong, dawn only feeds him iams. compared to other leading brands, it has 50% more animal protein. help keep rocky's body as strong as a love that never fades... if he ever lets her leave again. iams. keep love strong. there's nothing like our grilled lobster and lobster tacos. the bar harbor bake is really worth trying. [ male announcer ] get more during red lobster's lobsterfest. with the year's largest selection of mouth-watering lobster entrees. like our delicious lobster lover's dream,
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just a few hours arc police in new zealand shot a 12-foot shark as it tore apart a swimmer at a popular surfing beach.
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witnesses reportedly saw other sharks circling after a big one attacked. after a smatterings in of attacks in this country -- those who study them see amazing predators vital to ocean health. one team determined to discover what makes them tick, what brings them close, and tonight abc's lindsay davis goes along. >> reporter: 15 adrenaline pumping minutes. that's the maximum time this team has to tag, test and release this massive 3,500-pound lion of the sea. first they cover her eyes and give her a water supply. the next bit of poking and prodding allows them to draw blood and run a battery of tests. then comes the moment that could change the tide when it comes to understanding great whites. they insert a homing device into that signature dorsal fin,
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essentially a built-in gps that pings off of a satellite capable of tracking and monitoring the movement of the sharks anywhere they go in the world. >> oh yeah! big girl! >> before we let her go, i named her mary lee after my mother, because my parents have done so much, i was just waiting and waiting for a special shark to name after her. >> reporter: the man in charge of it all is chris fisher. he spends his life fishing for great white sharks to learn more about them. he invited us onboard his ship where he spends most of his days trying to crack the shark code. as a result of his work, each month, a million people check his global shark tracking website to follow the sharks they've tagged, from florida all the way up to new england and beyond. we're just cruising along here. happen to see the empire state building. and new yorkers don't tend to think about sharks. just off the coast here,
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there's -- >> yeah, sure. oh yeah, they live here. >> reporter: with "jaws", steven spielberg incited terror about what could be lurking close to shore. now, almost 40 years later, fishers try to dispel some of that fear and mystery by putting great whites on the map, literally. are sharks coming closer than they used to? >> nobody knows what they used to do. this is the first time we're establishing these tracks to understand what normal even is. people say well, what's mary lee doing as she cruises up the southeastern coast of the united states? the fact is we don't really know. >> reporter: see this little orange dot? that's mary lee. she is one of two north atlantic great whites he caught in september just off the coast of cape cod. >> mary lee's track is a perfect example of why people don't really need to be worried about sharks when they go swimming. she has cruised the entire
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length of the eastern seaboard on the beach. >> reporter: in the past six months, she's traversed the length of the east coast, hugging the shoreline from massachusetts to jacksonville, florida. >> i had to call the authorities in jacksonville beach because mary lee moved right in -- look at this. she was within 200 yards of a surf spot in a public pier. >> reporter: she then went back up to rhode island and was most recently spotted in the vicinity of bermuda. some environmentalists suggest that what you're doing is too invasi invasive, that it harms the sharks. >> we have the data to understand that it's not that much stress and there's no time. what are you going to do, sit back and chat about this for another day and let another 200,000 definned? >> reporter: the real outrage should be this rooftop, covered in thousands of freshly sliced shark fins. >> think about all the carcasses that are finless just for that one rooftop. >> reporter: these fins are used to make a soup viewed by many asians as a rare delicacy.
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>> you can't remove the apex predator from the ocean for a bowl of soup and expect the ocean to have a robust future. >> reporter: fisher has joined forces with a marine biologist and one of the stars of "spark week." he and his team tagged a shark using a different technique. they successfully managed to harpoon a shark not far off the beaches of cape cod. >> this is amazing. if you told me four years ago that we'd be able to tag this many white sharks, i would have said no, you're out of your mind. >> reporter: why is cape cod such a hot spot? >> my guess is that yeah, cape cod is a breeding site. i believe they'll be breeding there in the fall and early winter, but that's just my guess based on what i've seen around the world. >> reporter: while a great deal of his research appears to be uncharted territory, he believes breeding is largely what drives a lot of their behavior. >> the map on your left here are the mature female sharks. the map on the right is the
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mature male sharks. usually if you get mature females and the mature males coming together -- >> reporter: there's a reason for that. >> you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out maybe that is the breeding site. >> reporter: while these sharks are the largest predatory fish on earth, fisher says they've been given a bad rep. >> it's more dangerous to drive to the beach than to go swimming in the ocean. >> reporter: with this team's ground-breaking research, they're hoping they'll make some waves by replacing people's fear of sharks with curiosity. for "nightline," i'm lindsay davis in new york. >> i'm still checking for mary lee before getting in the water. coming up next, the reports of a scand swirling around the vatican as pope benedict prepares to step down. does that make a difference? search "cost of financial advisors" ouch. over time it really adds up. then go to e-trade and find out how much our advice costs. spoiler alert: it's low. really? yes, really. e-trade offers investment advice and guidance
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as benedict xvi is packing up to leave the vatican this week, we're getting new details on how the church will handle
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two living popes. meanwhile, scandal and intrigue swirling with rumors involving sex, money, and gay priests filling the italian media. abc's david wright has the latest. >> reporter: he's already said his last public mass at the basilica. he'll never appear in that window again. now the stage is set for one last public audience. then the sunsets on benedict xvi's papacy. 48 hours from no, benedict will no longer be pope. today we learned more details about his retirement. for instance, he'll be called pope emeritus, or in conversation, still your holiness. >> his holiness benedict xvi, pope emeritus. >> reporter: but no more swiss guards, nomore fisherman's
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either. >> simple white. very important point are the shoes. they will no longer be the red shoes that you've seen him wear. but he has chosen to keep brown shoes that were given to him on his recent trip to mexico. >> reporter: he also plans to live on the vatican grounds in a former nonery, no lo-- nunnery. no longer the holy father. for nearly a week now, the italian papers have run wild with a story of a sex and blackmail scandal about to explode. speculating that benedict really resigned because of a dossier he was given detailing the whole sordid mess. i mean, this is beginning to sound like a dan brown novel. >> the catholic church doesn't do dull. >> reporter: turns out a dossier does exist for the pope's eyes only, prepared by three elderly investigators nicknamed by the
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italian press the 007 cardinal. they were charged with investigating the scandal where the pope's private butler leaked confidential documents to outsiders. in december, they did give the pope a report, but only he knows what's in it. and it's going to stay that way. >> the holy father has decided that the acts of this investigation, known only to himself, remain solely at the disposition of the new pope. >> reporter: the vatican is upset by the focus on scandal. >> through the course of centuries, cardinals have had to face many forms of pressure. today there is an attempt to do this through public opinion. >> reporter: then the very next day, scandal took one vote from the college of cardinals. a british newspaper reported that four scottish priests say cardinal keith o'brien made unwanted sexual advances on them in the 1980s. the cardinal denies it, but says for the good of the church, he'll stay in scotland instead of coming to rome. other cardinals tainted by other
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scandals have ignored that example. among them, l.a.'s cardinal roger mahoney, church documents show that for more than a decade, he enabled priests to keep molesting children rather than report them to law enforcement. but mahoney's in rome excited about the vote, and blogging about how his critics are persecuting him. it's an election without a democracy. italians say they're used to it, even as the pope retires, another familiar face is making a comeback here. silvio berlusconi is trying to form a government. back again despite all his scandals. >> he should take an example from the pope. i mean, even the pope resigns and berlusconi is still there. >> reporter: here in italy, the pope has now become the definitive example of making a graceful exit. i'm david wright for "nightline" in rome. >> thanks to david, and we finish up with our closing argument now. a tragic catastrophe this
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morning as a hot air balloon carrying a group of tourists, mostly from asia, burst into flames and exploded over the historic egyptian city. at least 19 were killed, two injured. in a disaster now considered the worst hot air balloon accident in history. people have been traveling that way for a long time and these accidents are rare. but we wonder will it make you think twice before going up, up and away? you can weigh in on the "nightline" facebook page or tweet us @nightline or me @billweir. we hope you'll check in on "good morning america." george stephanopoulos will be in vatican city. we're always online at


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